A few hundred people turned out for Thursday’s public forum in Grand Rivers to express concerns over current and future logging at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
Trigg County Judge Executive Hollis Alexander, who helped organize the event, says he’s concerned the logging is happening on too much land, and too fast.
“What we want them to do is just slow the logging down and show it that it will work, that the savannas, the grasslands will be something that people want to come see,” he said. “Right now all we’re hearing from are the folks that want a canopy-like forest, that want to hike and see large trees.”
Trigg County Magistrate Larry Lawrence’s concern dealt more with the history within LBL.
“A lot of my friends, you know, have homesites over there and when they destroy the land these people ain’t going to be able to go back, tell their kids, grandkids or nothing what their homesites are,” he said. “And they would love to leave it like it is and I would like to see it left like it is.”
Other concerns expressed included access to roads on the recreation area, with one hiker saying she came down from Chicago and was unable to get to the site she planned on reaching.
Bill Gary IV of Grand Rivers proposed a possible solution, saying a local advisory board should be involved with land management.
But not everyone who stepped up to the mic had problems with the logging and the U.S. Forest Service’s creation of pre-European grassland.
Southern Illinois University forestry professor Charles Ruffner has been involved with some of the land management at LBL. He says the grasslands can be used for research, and that they are a small portion of the area.
“Only five percent of the landscape is being treated this way, I mean, five percent. That means 95 percent is still in mature oak hickory forest,” Ruffner said.
The community has expressed concern about land management at LBL in the past, the most recent being last year’s Pisgah Bay project.
Trigg and Lyon County Judge Executives Hollis Alexander and Wade White are gathering community input to send to the Forest Service in hopes of stopping or slowing the logging.